German court rules: Walk from bedroom to home office is commuting

German court rules: Walk from bedroom to home office is commuting

The Federal Social Court has ruled that a man who slipped and fell while walking from his bedroom to his home office was technically commuting. The court’s ruling means the man can claim insurance for a workplace accident.

German man falls into workplace insurance dispute

Germany’s Federal Social Court (Bundessozialgericht) has ruled that an unnamed man is entitled to claim workplace accident insurance for falling while walking from his bedroom to his home office. The court, which oversees cases regarding social security, heard that the man slipped and broke his back while descending a spiral staircase that connected the two rooms.

Initially, his employer’s insurance provider refused to accept the claim. So, the man took his claim to the courts and, while two lower courts could not decide whether he was technically commuting, the federal court found that “the first morning journey from bed to the home office [was] an insured work route”. The federal court finally ruled that the plaintiff "suffered an accident at work when he fell on the way to his home office in the morning.”

Businesses in Germany have a duty of care to their employees. As such, the federal court said: “If the insured activity is carried out in the household of the insured person or at another location, insurance cover is provided to the same extent as when the activity is carried out at the company premises.”

He's lucky he didn’t have breakfast!

During the proceedings, the court noted that the man usually started working “without having breakfast beforehand.” While it was initially uncertain how this affected the case, the court later said that statutory accident insurance only covers the “first” journey to work. This suggests that if the man left his home office to get breakfast, he would not have been entitled to the insurance if he fell while on his way to the kitchen, or while heading back to the home office.

It is as yet unclear as to whether the man was working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, or if he had always done so. However, the ruling has set a precedent for future accidents employees might experience when working from home. The courts said that its ruling applied to “teleworking positions”, which are essentially “computer workstations that are permanently set up by the employer in the private area of ​​the employees.”

William Nehra


William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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